Orlando Hernandez has provided exactly what the Yankees have needed since his return to New York’s injury plagued starting rotation.
The Cuban right-hander will look for his third win in as many starts when the Yankees complete a two-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
Hernandez, who was dealt from New York to Montreal after the 2002 season and missed all of last year with a shoulder injury, has won both of his outings since rejoining New York just prior to the All-Star break.
On Saturday, El Duque allowed three runs and six hits over five innings in a 5-3 victory at Detroit. He struck out six and walked three, throwing 57 of his 99 pitches for strikes.
Hernandez has gone five innings in each of his first two starts, but is hoping to provide manager Joe Torre with a longer outing this time around.
“It has helped a lot that my teammates are so happy about my return,” Hernandez said through a translator. “I feel good, but I just need to keep working on my location so that I don’t keep throwing 100 pitches in five innings.”
The Yankees took the series opener, and first of 19 meetings between the clubs this season, 10-3 behind a three-run homer from Gary Sheffield and solo blast by Enrique Wilson. Wilson filled in at shortstop for All-Star Derek Jeter, who sat out with a small fracture in his right hand after behind hit by a pitch Tuesday.
Jeter expects to play Thursday.
Bernie Williams went 2-for-5 with two RBIs after managing just two hits in his previous 40 at-bats for New York, which moved eight games in front of second-place Boston in the AL East.
Frank Catalanotto had an RBI double for Toronto, which has lost eight of nine.
The Blue Jays will play 18 of their remaining 69 games against the Yankees.